Welcome to service provisioning for the . This section provides information on how to deploy provisioning services in your hosted services environment. This documentation also shows you how to use, manage, and extend the Microsoft Provisioning System (MPS).

Current data center environment challenges

The complexity of building and managing data center environments has grown dramatically. In these environments, system administrators can be responsible for managing thousands of servers. In addition, the rapid adoption of hosted services, either inside the corporate firewall or on public Web sites, is driving increases in server count in the average data center. As a result, routine administrative tasks that are simple to accomplish in a small multiserver environment are unmanageable across such a large number of servers. The result of this is dramatic increases in the total cost of ownership (TCO) within data centers.

Tasks such as adding new users, updating directory entries, and provisioning application services across a large volume of servers are all manual administration tasks that do not scale. Administrators might be able to resolve scaling issues if they had a way to both automate these tasks and delegate some of them to customers for self-administration.

In addition, customers of hosted services are demanding service level agreements (SLAs), increased uptime and availability, and the ability to monitor and administer their own services. SLAs often incorporate metrics for service activation, service additions or modifications, user additions, and other similar changes. Deploying an infrastructure that enables the service provider to effectively and efficiently fulfill these customer requests is a top priority for most data centers.

The need to optimize operational efficiency

The current challenge in most data centers is no longer how quickly you can build a data center and fill it with customers and applications; rather, it is how best to optimize operational efficiency, lower costs, and increase customer satisfaction. In the data center, manual and centralized administration is expensive, it does not scale, and it cannot provide customers with the kind of control that is in demand.

It is a common practice for data center administrators to use valuable in-house development or technical resources to improve efficiency for these types of manual processes. The results are frequently inadequate, development and implementation costs are high, the solution usually does not scale, and additional IT resources are required for ongoing maintenance. Moreover, many of these solutions are still based on a centralized administration policy that cannot delegate administrative control to customers.

By employing delegated administration and automated provisioning, data centers can optimize operational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction.

What is service provisioning?

Today, independent software vendors (ISVs) and service providers are using service provisioning automation to speed the delivery and configuration of services. Automation of service and user configuration can provide significant competitive advantage in service delivery.

Service provisioning relies on the Microsoft Provisioning System (MPS) to automate routine administrative server management tasks such as adding new users, updating directory entries, and provisioning applications and services. By automating provisioning activities, the ISV will lower development costs, which can foster reallocation of development resources to revenue-generating projects such as deployment of new value-added services.

When used with the reference implementation of Active Directory, MPS provides a compelling set of services for use in multitenant application hosting scenarios. The combination of MPS and Active Directory is also a foundation for providing delegated administration via Web-based portals and through Web services. The solution ships with a sample control panel and a sample application that highlight these capabilities.

The Microsoft Provisioning System Solution

The Microsoft Provisioning System (MPS) is a solution that addresses all of the challenges that are currently facing data center environments. By basing your provisioning solution on the automated, robust, supported, and industry-standard framework of MPS, you can improve both internal operations and customer satisfaction. The comprehensive provisioning framework of MPS does the following:

  • Automates many manual, multiple-step provisioning processes while performing comprehensive logging.
  • Provides an infrastructure that supports the delegated administration of basic provisioning tasks to customers. This reduces the management costs normally associated with hosted solutions.
  • Translates high-level business logic into specific low-level provisioning tasks.
  • Insulates business logic from underlying platform changes.
  • Comes with a Web Service, namespace procedures, and providers that accelerate the development of customized solutions for the Web, data, and application hosting market.
  • Provides the means to automate the deployment and initial configuration of MPS, thus reducing deployment time and minimizing configuration errors by eliminating all the manual configuration steps required in earlier MPS releases.
  • Includes a comprehensive set of API documentation that enables customization of the data center environment.

In addition, because MPS procedures are transaction-based and because compensation can be applied by the Provisioning Engine where required, provisioning transactions can be rolled back if any failures occur. This eliminates any need in your provisioning environment for reconfiguration time following task failures.

See the "Administering Provisioning Servers" topic in the MPS Operations Guide for more information about the transactional capabilities of the Provisioning Engine. You can locate the MPS Operations Guide on the Microsoft Hosting Solutions for Service Providers site at: \Service Provisioning\MPS\MPF\help\opsguide.chm.

MPS includes a wide variety of providers, including sample providers with source code. MPS is an orchestration engine that, along with the included providers, has the capability to automate user and provisioning tasks, potentially with hundreds of discrete steps, into a single transaction. For more details about the sample code and how to develop components to interact with MPS, see Microsoft Provisioning System SDK.

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